World piece

By GREG COOK  |  October 2, 2012

art-mapparium

The tall wood doors open to reveal the whole world — turned inside out (disconcertingly, at first), in glowing stained glass, 30 feet across — and you step onto the glass bridge spanning its center.

It's the Mapparium. When architect Chester Lindsay Churchill designed the Christian Science Publishing Society headquarters in the early 1930s, he gave it a magic heart. His inspiration: the 12-foot globe in the New York Daily News headquarters. But he topped that, designing a three-story-tall globe to symbolize the nearby Mother Church's international reach (via its press and the Christian Science Monitor).

The Mapparium opened in 1935, designed to be updated, but all the changes of World War II and the dissolution of European colonial empires scotched that. Instead it's a time capsule of bygone nations: French Indo-China, Yugoslavia, Belgian Congo, the mammoth Soviet Union.

"This is our earth," a recorded voice intones. "There is no place like it." The 608 glass panels framed in bronze glow from the outside, the serene ocean blue-green against red, green, and orange nations. The show's a bit schmaltzy, ending with television footage of NASA rockets. But the globe's majesty can still take your breath away, overwhelming you with color, humbling. Then you notice voices murmuring in your ear — because of the way the room's shape reflects whispers. In that moment before you figure it out, it can feel like you're hearing everything.

MAPPARIUM | CHRISTIAN SIENCE CENTER, 200 MASS AVE, BOSTON

>> GREGCOOKLAND.COM/JOURNAL

  Topics: Museum And Gallery , globe, Christian Science Center, arts features
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY GREG COOK
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE LAST FRONTIER  |  April 02, 2014
    They say that temperatures in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica haven’t been above freezing in millennia.
  •   ASSURED ABSTRACTIONS  |  March 19, 2014
    “The golden age of abstraction is right now,” ARTnews informed me last spring.
  •   COMMON GROUND  |  March 12, 2014
    “I did everything in the world to keep this from happening,” exclaims the assistant to the rich man in Kerry Tribe’s There Will Be ___ _.
  •   LOCAL LUMINARIES  |  March 05, 2014
    Reenacting a childhood photo, portraits of fabulous old ladies, and dollhouse meditations on architecture are among the artworks featured in the “2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition.”
  •   TWISTED TOY STORY  |  February 26, 2014
    What is it that makes creepy dolls so freaky cool?

 See all articles by: GREG COOK